Bialystok begun life as a small fortress mansion in the early sixteenth century. It was soon invaded and mostly destroyed by the Swedes and finally rebuilt and granted city status in the late seventeenth century. From then on the city slowly became industrialised and enjoyed an influx of textile trade as manufacturers moved from Lodz to avoid high import revenues on goods sent to Russia. It is revered as one of the principal Russian/Polish Jewish centres and much of the textile industry was run by Jews. During the second German occupation in the Second World War, thousands of Jews from Bialystok were executed. The city is now the largest in North East Poland and has been important in the developing overland trade routes between Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. In addition to a powerful industrial workforce producing much of the areas food and exported plastic and electronic goods, there is a massive educational focus with the [ University of Bialystok] and [ Bialystok Technical University]. Most train routes North to the Baltic States, Belarus and Russia pass through Bialystok. This method of travel is an excellent opportunity to take in the forests and vast countryside that surrounds the city.


Branickis Palace – The Branicki family palace was the site of the original development of the city. It was been rebuilt in the Renaissance style and is referred to as Poland’s Versailles. In addition to the intricate architecture there are some excellent Baroque style gardens with sculptures, the palace gate and some decent cafes. Many of the artistic exhibits were destroyed or looted in the Second World War but there still exist some impressive globes.

St Fara Church – Jozef Pius Dziekonski’s Neogothic Church is painted a deep red and it makes a striking impression through the surrounding trees. There are also some excellent stained glass windows inside.

[ Bialowieski National Park] – One of the many UNESCO heritage sites in Poland and the Baltics, this area is home to the European Bison. The forests are beautiful and rich in mammal and bird species. The surrounding areas a great place to enjoy come outdoor persuits and basic accommodation is relatively easy to track down, there are also a good number of spa or “wellness” centres. Podlaskie Museum – The museum is the largest in the region and is housed in the town hall. There are the usual ethnographical and archaeological artefacts but the museum prides itself in a large collection from the Russian Orthodox and Polish eighteenth to twentieth century periods.


The centre has two main shopping parades, the streets of Lipowa and Kilińskiego. The shops are mostly independent fashion outlets, Polish chain stores and the odd souvenir emporium although more specialised antique style shops can be found along Grochowa Street.. There are two large hypermarkets, “Auchan” and “Makro” which sell food and clothes at very low prices.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The larger and most expensive restaurants serve national cuisine, although there are clear influences from Belarus and Turkey. Weekends tend to be very busy with variable service but the food is pretty good on the whole. International favourites include Vietnamese, Chinese and Italian, although the fast food options are not really worth investigating. The most famous pizza outlet [ Hokus Pokus] is a loud, vibrant affair but the food is top notch. The city has its own dish, the “Bialy”, which is an un-boiled bagel flavoured savoury ingredients such as onion. They are popular here, and in Jewish sections of New York apparently.

A large section of the nightlife is supported by the large student population and is busy throughout the week as well as weekends. There tend to be some interesting outfits on display and the music can be equally entertaining. Some popular choices are [ Heaven] which plays chart and RnB music and [ Gwint] which serves a more alternative rock crowd. There are loads of decent bars around the centre, many of them opting for dark but trendy basement locations.

Tourist Information

  • Podlasian Regional Tourist Organization, 15-440 Białystok, Malmeda 6
  • Phone: +48 085 7326831
  • Fax: +48 085 7326831
  • Email:
  • Website: []


The city airport “Krywlany” accepts some small passenger tourist planes, but is mostly for training and leisure purposes rather than commercial flights. There are plans to build a larger commercial airport with a 1400m runway. The nearest large airport is [ Warsaw Frederick Chopin Airport] which can be reached directly from Bialystok on the Polski Express bus service which runs four times a day and takes just under four hours. Flights run worldwide with cheap flights to the UK offered by [ Easyjet].